NRA’s pushback against sensible gun-control is stale and tired

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Illustration by Gabriel Ivan Orendain-Necochea / Senior Illustrator

We all know the names: Columbine, Virginia Tech., Aurora, and now Sandy Hook. It’s a long, sad list of violence; massacres carried out in public places where we should all be safe.

President Obama recently held a press conference announcing his plan to reduce gun violence in the United States. His sweeping proposal involves not only reducing the number of assault weapons on our streets, it also examines funding for our mental health system, getting more trained police at our schools and requiring universal background checks for those who purchase guns. These common-sense ideas are a good start.

So, why is the National Rifle Association having a meltdown?

They’ve made it clear they’re vehemently opposed to any kind of gun control legislation. In the wake of the Newtown school shooting in which 20 children and six adults were killed, Wayne LaPierre, head of the NRA, went so far as to suggest that what we really need are more “good guys” with guns.

The NRA’s outlandish behavior is completely out of proportion with the suggestions that will soon be before Congress. Their ridiculous attack ad paints the president as an out-of-touch elitist liberal who wants to line up the nation’s children for target practice. They sound less like an influential constitutional rights lobby and more like spoiled, angry children having temper tantrums on the floor of the Wal-Mart toy department. Well, maybe the sporting goods department.

Maybe the NRA leadership is just so busy having paranoid panic attacks they haven’t had time to listen to what the conversation is actually about. No one is suggesting repealing the rights of Americans to carry a gun for lawful purposes. We have the right to defend our homes and our families. We have the right to go out into the woods and shoot at deer. Those rights shouldn’t extend to running around with an AR-15.

In the last 30 years, there have been 62 mass shootings in the U.S. Seven of them occurred in 2012. It’s true that the data can be analyzed in different ways. For example, Mother Jones Magazine recently published a comprehensive study on mass shootings. They started with the FBI’s definition of a mass murder (four or more people killed in one location by a single person in a short period of time), then, excluded gang violence and armed robbery from their analysis. They chose to focus on shootings where the motive did not involve money or gang retribution. Critics could argue this skews the numbers, but the intent here was to examine the phenomenon of mass shootings.

No matter how we arrange the statistics one thing is clear – we, as a society, need to act. As President Obama said in his address on Jan. 16, “We can’t put this off any longer.”

So, what is the president proposing? After a month-long review process during which Vice President Joe Biden and his task force met with 229 organizations including the NRA, law enforcement and public health officials, the administration has decided to focus on these points:

  • Providing better funding for mental health services

There is little question that these mass shootings are being carried out by disturbed individuals. We need more money and support for mental health services in our communities so we can recognize and treat people before something terrible happens. Too often, violent, mentally ill patients don’t get treatment until they’ve committed a crime. Let’s help them before they’re going to group therapy in shackles and an orange jumpsuit.

  • Requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales

This already goes on in many places. In California, for example, a buyer can’t just purchase a gun at a gun show and take it home. They must wait 10 days while a background check is done. Once approved, they can pick up the weapon from the seller. Not only does this provide a “cooling down” period, it helps sellers ensure they aren’t giving a gun to a known felon. We need to make this consistent across the country. If someone commits a violent felony, they have given up the right to own a gun. Period.

  • Reinstating the 1994 assault weapons ban

This one seems like a no-brainer. The right to bear arms as covered in the Second Amendment has been understood to apply not only to hunting, but to protecting one’s home and person. That’s fine. People can do that with handguns, shotguns and rifles. The average citizen should not be allowed to own a weapon designed for modern warfare. Some police support the idea that they don’t need to be facing civilians with military-grade assault weapons. No one needs a gun that is inherently designed to kill people.

  • Allocating funds to hire more police officers at schools

Here’s a crazy idea! If you want more people with guns to protect schools, rather than arming teachers andcustodians, lets hire some folks who are actually trained to do it. These really are the “good guys” with guns. They have the training and accountability to do the job correctly. Let’s let them.

Just because someone owns a gun doesn’t mean they know how to use the thing. Police and military personnel are trained to react in combat situations. They are conditioned to counteract their automatic fear responses and make thoughtful, split-second decisions when someone is pointing a gun at them.

The person who legally carries a concealed handgun and goes to the range once or twice a week is not. Would they know where the shots are coming from? If someone else is “helping” as well, how do they know who the perpetrator is? How good is their aim? Once authorities arrive, how are they supposed to determine who is the “good guy” and who is the “bad guy?”

Listen to the pre-show announcements the next time you go to the movies. You will probably be reminded to “keep an eye out for suspicious characters” after the admonition to turn off your cell phone. Seriously? We’re ok living like this?

How many people have to die at school, work, or the movies before we stand up and say, “No more”? We have become so numb to violence and so apathetic about the possibility of making any changes that it took first-grade children being shot in their classrooms for us to take any real notice again.

It’s time to wake up. Violence only begets more violence. More guns is not the answer. It’s time to take control of this situation and demand real change.


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  • Arman Gosparini

    The gun control laws being proposed are neither sensible nor sane. They operate in a world devoid of fact or reality and will fail spectacularly, as they always have and always will, because their design is not based on reason or rationality, but the emotionality, childishness, and ignorance of rabid, maladroit ideologues that have neither the inclination nor mental capacity to observe the world as it is, instead of what they wish it was.

    That is why an incoherent sentence like this…

    “No one needs a gun that is inherently designed to kill people.”

    …Can be written after conceding a right to self defense (What did the author think we would be defending ourselves from? Pheasants?) and published without a pause for second thought.

  • David the small-L libertarian

    “No one needs a gun that is inherently designed to kill people.”Huh?

    • thegoldhammer

      I was scratching my head from that as well.

  • Aaron Goldhammer

    Some of you might remember me from this article: http://sundial.csun.edu/2013/01/csun-alumnus-to-serve-in-israeli-army/
    Let me give you all my take of this article…

    Let me briefly start by saying that in the past 50 years, all but one “mass shooting” was committed in a “gun free zone.”  Just saying.  If you read the article about me, you’d know that I’ll soon be joining the Israeli Defense Force.  As a soldier, I imagine that I’ll feel much more comfortable going into dangerous places knowing that there are many good guys around me with guns, and not just other men and women in uniform.

    Someone hasn’t done their homework about what an evil “assault rifle” actually is…Obama, and the gun-grabbers, need to understand that this country doesn’t have a gun problem; we have a CRIMINAL PROBLEM.  We aren’t enforcing the (unconstitutional) laws that are in place currently.  Violent criminals are allowed to be released and continue to harm us.  Criminals, by definition, do not follow laws.  This is why they are criminals in the first place.  No law that is enacted will ever stop or limit gun crimes in this country.  Instead of going after the less than 1% of gun owners who commit crimes, gun-grabbers are going after the people who actually WANT to follow the law.  I’ve heard that the criminal how shot teachers and children in Newtown broke over 40 laws.  I have deliberately not said the name of the suspect because people like that do not deserve to have their name remembered by good citizens like us.  One thing I know is that one more law will do nothing to address the underlying problem, which is crime and the availability of proper mental health care.  Making background checks “universal” will do nothing to prevent crimes with firearms.  If you are a criminal, chances are you aren’t going to be willing to follow any firearms laws.  You’re going to buy your firearm illegally, which means that there’s no background check.  The only people getting “checked” are people who are already good citizens.”The average citizen should not be allowed to own a weapon designed for modern warfare.”Let’s discuss what this actually means.  An “assault rifle” is a regular rifle which has the following features: (1) It fires center fire cartridges, (2) The cartridges are magazine fed (it’s a magazine not a clip!!!), (3) they have a “pistol grip,” (4) they have a collapsible buttstock, (5) they have a bayonet lug, and (6) they have a barrel shroud.  Let’s talk a little bit about each of these “evil” features.  The first one is simple.  There are two types of cartridges that are produced today: rimfire and centerfire.  The difference between the two is where the firing pin (or striker) hits the cartridge.The second one is also simple, yet many many people get this confused.  The cartridges are fed into the rifle using a devise called a magazine.  The magazine can be loaded and unloaded with relative ease (except CA ARs, which isn’t really relevant right now).Now we’re starting to get to the really really evil features.  #3 is the pistol grip.  All this does is make it more comfortable for the shooter to hold and fire the rifle.  It doesn’t make the rifle any more or less powerful.  This is one of the scary looking cosmetic features.The fourth feature is the collapsible buttstock.  This is also very scary and intimidating to some people.  For the rest of us, it just makes it easier for people with different arm lengths to fire a rifle in comfort.  Again, this feature is cosmetic and does not make the rifle any more or less powerful.The fifth feature is the bayonet lug.  I have done some research to find out if there has been a recorded crime committed using a bayonet attached to a rifle and I have to admit defeat.  I couldn’t find any crimes that have been committed with a bayonet where someone was injured by a bayonet.  Most people tend not to shoot with a bayonet attached to the rifle because it messes up the balance and adds weight to the rifle.  One of the appeals of the AR15 is that it’s light weight.  I’m classifying this feature as cosmetic as well because most people don’t use it at all.Finally, we have the super scary barrel shroud.  To help us understand what this is, I’d like to refer you a congressperson.  Let me introduce you to Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy representing New York’s 4th congressional district.http://dustinsgunblog.blogspot.com/2007/11/carolyn-mccarthy-explaining-what-barrel.htmlOkay so she actually doesn’t know what a barrel shroud is despite her great desire to ban them and large capacity “clips.”  What a barrel shroud actually does is protect the shooters hands from getting burned by the barrel.  As you fire the rifle the barrel does tend to get a little hot so this accessory protects you from getting burned.”Assault rifle” is a made up word (yes it’s two words) created by politicians who really don’t want any of us owning guns.  So they simple took the “scariest” looking gun and tried to regulate it out of the hands of law abiding gun owners, despite the fact that criminals aren’t affected by laws.  All of those features are used in the military’s M16/M4 because it makes them easier for different types of people to use.  Their rifles are have full auto modes, whereas ours are semi-auto (one bullet per trigger pull).Also, consider that the cartridge that AR15s typically use, the .223 Remington/5.56 NATO, is used in many many other rifles, yet for some reason, only AR15s (and other rifles with the same cosmetic features) are targeted by gun grabbers (for now).  For example, a Ruger Mini14 Ranch Rifle is “okay” to own, but a Ruger Mini14 Tactical is evil only because it has certain cosmetic features.  They both use the same cartridge, but the Tactical model would be banned under the proposed Assault Weapons Ban.  That’s like saying that it’s okay for people to own a Dodge Challenger V6 but it’s not okay to own the SRT-8 with the bigger engine.  It’s really silly, but it’s an argument that uneducated and uninformed people make.Let me talk briefly about the NRA.  Yes I definitely understand that the NRA has made a lot of noise recently and before these awful crimes that have taken place.  The NRA always insisted that Obama had an incredibly anti-gun agenda.  His voting record clearly indicates this during his time as a senator.  With one or two exceptions, Obama did leave us alone during his first term, but things changed immediately after his reelection.  Immediately, the UN Arms Treaty because something that America was “interested” in for the first time ever.  Now he’s literally going after our guns.  He said it himself during one of the presidential debates.  I do not agree with everything the NRA does, or has done, but the NRA is THE biggest gun that I own.

    “Allocating funds to hire more police officers at schools”
    At first glance this seems like a good idea.  Unfortunately the realities are a little less convenient.  The cost would be enormous!  It just isn’t financially possible to have more officers at schools.  Instead, allow people with concealed weapons permits to be on school grounds.  Allow teachers to be armed.  They’ll provide security for free!  We already trust our teachers with our children’s minds, why not with their lives?  Michelle Reuter obviously knows very little about the training that police officers receive.  She also knows little about the training that CCW permit holders receive.  In fact I’d love to know if she has ever even handled a firearm.  The training is actually pretty similar.  In fact, police officers in Los Angeles are only required to qualify with their firearm 3 times a year!  A CCW holder goes to the range much more often than that, on average.  Feel free to contact me for the statistics, or for firearms training.

    -Aaron Goldhammer

  • VladLenin

    Allocating funds to hire more police officers at schools

    Actually, President Obama didn’t propose this – Wayne LaPierre, the NRA President proposed this, and was subsequently excoriated.

    • David the small-L libertarian

       Actually, President Bill Clinton allocated $60 million for the Cops in Schools program back in 2000.

      • VladLenin

        David,

        Yes, I knew this. Seems when a Democrat proposes a thing it’s righteous, but when the same recommendation is made by a Conservative, they are excoriated.

        The Left busted a vein over Enhanced Interrogation, but seem cozy with the idea that the President can unilaterally kill people with drones.

  • VladLenin

    Columbine, Gabby Giffords, Virginia Tech., Aurora, and now Sandy Hook

    All have one thing(well 2) in common. Liberalism, as each perpetrator was either a Democrat, or came from a home of Democrats. Further, I’m pretty sure, that in each of these instances, Mental Health was a factor.

    The current push for Gun Control is void on any degree of rationality.

    1)The cities with the toughest Gun Control laws, have the most killings. (Washington D.C., Chicago, Detroit, Oakland)
    2)There are a million+ crimes, NOT COMMITED every year, because someone has shown a gun, or used a gun in self defense.

    The Editorial Board of the Sundial, the Professors at CSUN, and seemingly the “drones” that porport themselves to be writers are ignorant of the facts associated with gun violence in America.

    20 dead children in Newtown is a tragedy(God Bless their souls).

    Do you know what they call 20 dead children in Chicago, D.C, Detroit, Oakland?. . .

    . . .a long weekend.

    Liberalism!

    Peace out,

    Vlad 

  • Jon Soto

    Typical Obama worship by the left. Gun control laws are doomed to fail because criminals will never obey them. We need an armed populace to control  crime. Gun control failed in Chicago, Detroit, and all other cities controlled by bleeding heart do gooder liberals. Look at the states and cities with the least crime and you’ll find that they have castle laws, pro-concealed carry laws, and laws that allow honest citizens to defend themselves against a diabolical assortment of ne’er-do-wells. Look at the states and cities with the most crime and you’ll find strict gun control laws.